In the twenty first Century no one would consider a world without a mobile phone, computer, internet access or email account. However, the ‘Baby Boomers’ (those of us born post Second World War) can remember a time when we did not have all the above assistance yet still managed to stay in touch, complete a full work day and correspond with others, all without the benefit of the above devices!

Of importance to those of us working in the ‘spirituality space’ where spirituality has been defined as ‘connections’ is the impact the Information Technology (IT) world has on our connections. The Australian social demographer Hugh MacKay1 asserts that we are ‘herd’ people and belong in small groups. Further he contends it is to our peril psychologically if we cut ourselves off from the herd. It is argued here, this disconnect with the ‘other’ can also cause us to become spirituality bereft.

The ‘most precious resource we have for coping with life in an unstable world…is not information but each other’ (MacKay)

In this IT age where communication is via a computer network, relating to each other personally is diminishing. One significant danger associated with the information revolution is the preoccupation with sending and receiving messages entirely via machines. This approach can lead us to become personally isolated from one another1. The ‘most precious resource we have for coping with life in an unstable world…is not information but each other’ claims MacKay1 and there is agreement that our wisdom is not found in a database but rather grows out of the experience of living life with the human herd and absorbing the lessons learnt. Despite the convenience of the information age, is it taking us away from a society we have traditionally valued, one built on relating to and caring for each other one- on-one?

Thomas Moore2 believes that every relationship is an ‘entanglement of souls’ and he asserts this entanglement invites us to enter into revelations of ourselves in community. Of importance is the claim he makes that ‘a mere transfer of electronic data can’t do that’2.

Is this era of IT that encourages us to be independent and individualistic, that values throughput and output – depriving us of the relationship to other human beings and affecting our spiritual connections? We need each other more than we need additional information. Is it time to enact the practice of ‘good spiritual health’? A time where the computer is turned off, the mobile phone is left unattended and emails are not answered within a 24 hour time frame. Instead, we spend time prospering our spirit by locating ourselves together benefiting from the ‘presence’ of each other and ensuring connections that are ‘spiritual’ – are prospered.

Author: Ann Harrington. Meaningful Ageing Research Consultant / Flinders University Associate Professor.

We invite you to send your responses to Ann’s piece to admin@meaningfulage.org.au

References:

  1. MacKay H (1999) Turning Point. Australians choosing their future. Pan Macmillan, Sydney.
  2. Moore, T (1992) Care of the soul. A guide for cultivating depth and sacredness in everyday life. Harper Collins, New York.

 

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